By Airman Kevin Sommer Giron
19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
U.S. Air Force Maj. Marci Hoffman, 314th Operations Group training office flight commander, arrived on the northwest side of Baghdad International Airport, Iraq, near midnight. Having been deployed three times before, Hoffman was no stranger to contingency operations. However, this experience was unlike any other.
“I didn’t know what to expect,” said Hoffman. “Having gone through training at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., I was prepared, but not having done this mission before, I had to go in with an open mind.”
As the director of operations of a newly stood up unit, Hoffman began her three-month deployment assigned to the 370th Air Expeditionary Advisory Squadron at the Baghdad Diplomatic Support Center, Iraq.
Aside from her role as the director of operations, Hoffman also acted as an air advisor, assisting Iraqi air force members specializing in the C-130 aircraft at Al-Muthanna Air Base, Iraq.
“It was important to provide the training and resources necessary for preparing their air mobility force for tomorrow,” Hoffman said. “It is the Team Little Rock approach; to lead the way for the force of the future.”
Hoffman’s administrative responsibilities combined with her C-130J pilot training and experience made her well equipped to mentor the Iraqi airmen and help further their air mobility training program and mission.
Her contributions aided in the completion of the first training airdrop accomplished by Iraqi airmen stationed at Al-Muthanna.
“They had six C-130Js and one E-model in their fleet, but less than half of the aircrews were trained to do airdrops in those aircraft,” Hoffman said.
A small number of previously — trained Iraqi pilots and aircrew — were taught at the Center of Excellence. The 314th Airlift Wing’s premier C-130 training school that regularly instructs students from 47 partner nations as well various branches of the U.S. military.
“We worked with the Iraqi pilots who completed airdrop training at Little Rock to train their newer pilots at a training range we set up in Besmaya Combat Training Center, Iraq,” Hoffman said.
Hoffman assisted and advised several Iraqi aircrews in aerial resupplies, short field landing assaults and maintenance debriefs.
She not only improved training techniques, but aided in the improvement of communication between air traffic control towers.
“The C-130s would come too close to each other during flight,” Hoffman said. “I worked with different units to get releasable information to the Iraqi airmen about how to get in and out of their airfields safely which greatly helped de-confliction efforts with different bases across Iraq,” Hoffman said.
Using the training they received during Hoffman’s time there, Iraqi C-130J aircrews are now able to fly two to three missions a day with six to eight sorties containing cargo.
“The 314th AW is the cornerstone of C-130 combat airlift excellence,” Hoffman said. “Our mission is to provide the world’s best C-130 training, and to see how far our partner nation has come is very rewarding — not just for me but for the wing,” said Hoffman.